Keen Doncaster cyclist and former member of Askern CC, Ian Blair got in touch with Cycling Stories in late 2018. He told us that he had been working on collating a history of the club to present to other former members at their Christmas get-together and Ian has been kind enough to allow us share some of what he has collated.
A meeting of a group of like-minded enthusiasts led to the formation of a new cycling club based in the village of Askern in 1934. The Askern Cycling Club would be run by a committee, with an approved set of rules covering everything from membership, fees, membership of the National Cyclists’ Union, breakdowns and riding formation. There was a revival of cycling and a growing interest getting out and about outdoors in the 1930s, and membership of the new club soon reached almost 40 interested men and women. Meetings were generally held in and around Askern, including the Swan Hotel, the Parish Rooms, Prospect House, and the Welfare Institute.
The club was set up with the intent of offering weekly cycle rides around the district, and also put on several 25 mile time trials. There was a strong social aspect to the club, as annual dances were held for members and their partners. When the Second World War broke out in 1939, the club tried to carry on as normal. Members continued to promote various time trials and participated in events organised by other clubs. However, as the war continued and the threat of invasion loomed, it was agreed that that all club books and belongings would be deposited at Rosslyn Moss Road for the duration of hostilities. Many members were called up for military service and cycling as a hobby had to take a back seat for a few years.
The post-war years saw a revival of the club once again. Membership numbers began to rise and the election of Mr H. Hayes as Club Secretary saw a great improvement in record keeping, with much more regard to detail. Time trials of 10 and 25 miles were to be undertaken, a mountain time trial took place near Campsall and a freewheel competition was to take place at Barnsdale bar. Weekly club runs also continued as normal. In 1951 the club organised a trip to the Festival of Britain in London, with members riding down to London on the Saturday of the Whitsuntide bank holiday weekend and returning on the Sunday. Several members of the club also cycled to Birmingham in June 1951 for the Festival of Cycling.
However, despite a full and varied programme of rides and excursions, membership of Askern Cycling Club began to decline throughout the 1950s, reaching an all-time low of 11 in 1957. Thanks no doubt to the determination of the existing members to keep the club going, membership once again revived into the 1960s, including a strong junior membership. By 1961 membership had recovered to 28. This was a good year for the club, as several new club records were achieved. Member Mr A. Robson broke every distance record for 25, 50, 100 miles and 12 hours. This was also the year in which Peter Hill joined the club, who within the next two seasons would take the racing section to a new level, putting the name of Askern Cycling Club well and truly on the map.
The club continued to go from strength to strength as the 1960s progressed. In 1963 Peter Hill became only the third Yorkshireman to win the British Best All-Rounder and the youngest, at only 18 years of age. Several members of the club made the trip to the Royal Albert Hall to support Peter and see him awarded the British Best All-Rounder trophy. Membership continued to rise, possibly because of this success in time trialling. 1964 became the club’s finest year for racing results, with Peter Hill once again winning the British Best All-Rounder and the Yorkshire Best All-Rounder.
Also in this year, club members Denis Brunt, Gordon Harding and Ian Blair entered the Mannin Veg Road Race on the Isle of Man. This was a one-lap race around the Mountain Circuit. Denis managed to cross the line in first place, with Gordon in second, so when Ian finished in 38th place the team award was secured.
The club continued to enjoy individual success and many happy days out cycling, alongside the competitive events. However, membership began to wane in the early 1970s and although the club enjoyed a brief revival in the early 1990s, Askern Cycling Club no longer exists today. But, as the village of Askern forms part of the route for the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire, perhaps this will lead to a new wave of interest in cycling within the area. As former member Ian Blair says,
“We had people of all ages and abilities, it was a really good mix. That’s what cycling is all about, encouraging people to join in.”